Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Cool Coastal Vacation

Early this month the boys and I traveled to San Diego for a little vacation. We met Keith's parents there who had planned a fun week with Ethan. Keith parents have a great tradition of taking each one of their grandchildren on a trip sometime before they turn 12.This is quite ambitious of them considering they have 17 grand kids!  It was Ethan's turn and they chose to spend their week with him in San Diego. Ethan was thrilled to take his trip there since he was born in southern California and has wanted to visit again for sometime now.

Mac and I flew out with Ethan so that we could stay for a few days and  visit Sea World. My company gave me a season pass for Sea World which means that my family and I can visit any one of the nine Sea World parks for free, as many times in a year that we want. A very generous gift that we all enjoyed tremendously.

Our first stop upon arriving in San Diego was the Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma. We had a nice walk down the coast and the kids enjoyed the tide pools. The weather was fabulous, a cool 64 degrees with a nice ocean breeze. A nice break from the hot Midwest summer in the middle of July.

The kids enjoyed exploring the tide pools and stacking rocks.
Taking a little break with Grandpa and enjoying the ocean view.
Next stop Sea World.............

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Quarry Men

Guest post by Keith
A friend of mine from WFHB had long ago extended an open invitation to us to come swim in the limestone quarry on the property she and her husband rent. Last weekend, we finally got our schedules aligned and took the plunge. What an awesome adventure!

Fans of the 1979 film Breaking Away can attest to the lure of quarry swimming. The water is typically very clean as most of it comes from underground aquifers. But some quarries receive nutrient-rich surface runoff, and can become overgrown with algae. The quarry used for filming the Breaking Away movie is about five miles south of the one we visited.

Limestone mining was once the major industry of south central Indiana, and it is still important, but the demand for limestone has diminished steadily over the years as other, less expensive building materials have come on the market.

Bloomington-area limestone has a long history for its quality, and limestone from this area has been used in the construction of the Empire State Building, the Pentagon, the National Cathedral and various other monuments and buildings in Washington, D.C. Indiana limestone was also used extensively to rebuild many Chicago buildings after the great fires of 1871. And of course, Indiana University features local limestone in nearly every building on campus.

There are literally hundreds of abandoned quarries in this area, and nearly all are considered accidents waiting to happen by their owners, as quarry swimming can be very dangerous. Extreme caution and skill is necessary before jumping into the clear, cold water. Most have fences and/or security patrols to keep out trespassers, but determined swimmers usually find their way in, as evidenced by their graffiti. Limestone mining is also very dangerous, as it takes a special kind of skill and bravery to wrangle three ton blocks of stone out of the earth, without getting crushed.